A prisoner of conscience spent his sixth year in prison. A possible prisoner of conscience was arrested and detained. A prisoner was allegedly tortured. A "village volunteer group" was reportedly responsible for a possible extrajudicial execution. Talks between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal in March and April to discuss the fate of more than 88,000 Nepali-speaking southern Bhutanese people living in refugee camps in eastern Nepal were inconclusive. A joint verification team to categorize the people in the camps had not started its work by the end of the year (see Amnesty International Reports 1994 and 1995). By the end of August over 340 more people had left southern Bhutan to seek asylum in Nepal. Many were believed to have been forced to leave Bhutan as a result of government policies which discriminated against Nepali speakers. The government attributed incidents of armed robbery in southern Bhutan to "anti-nationals" returning to Bhutan from the refugee camps in Nepal. There were also reports that armed members of the Bodo tribal community in Assam, India, were responsible for human rights abuses in southern Bhutan. Tek Nath Rizal, a prisoner of conscience, spent his sixth year in prison, despite having been pardoned by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in late 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1994). Tashi Norbu, a businessman, was reportedly detained for 10 days in Phuntsholing in June. Police raided his house looking for posters used in a campaign organized in May by the Druk National Congress, a political party in exile in Nepal. The posters demanded political reforms and greater respect for human rights. As of June, 44 political prisoners were reported to be serving prison sentences and a further 70 were on trial. A prisoner was allegedly tortured. Omey Sanyasi, from Ghumaunay village, Samchi district, was arrested in March on suspicion of links with "anti-nationals" abroad. During three days of interrogation in Thimpu police headquarters he was allegedly kicked, beaten with sticks, and subjected to chepuwa, where the victim's legs are crushed between pieces of wood. He was transferred to prison and released after three months on condition that he and his family left the country. A "village volunteer group", a civil defence force, was reportedly responsible for a possible extrajudicial execution in southern Bhutan in February. Durga Das Tamang, one of five armed men who tried to rob some houses in Homa village, Kalikhola, Chirang district, died after reportedly being apprehended and beaten by "village volunteers". Amnesty International continued to appeal for the release of Tek Nath Rizal and sought information about the charges against Tashi Norbu. It asked for information on the results of any investigation into the death of Durga Das Tamang. The Chief of Police replied in April that the "village volunteers" had not been charged as they had acted in self-defence. Amnesty International also expressed concern that a National Assembly proposal in August to issue arms to "village volunteer groups" could, if implemented, lead to an increase in human rights violations. No response on this issue had been received by the end of the year. Amnesty International appealed to the government not to force southern Bhutanese people to leave the country against their will.

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